Lessons in Surviving The 1st Year!

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Today is my baby girl’s 1st birthday!  I can’t believe how fast this past year went. And how much I have learned.  I thought baby number two would be a breeze – I was an old pro – right?!  WRONG! This past year pushed me to the edge as a person more than any year in my life.  As a mom and as a person.

When I had my Dream Dinners party a month ago, I met this sweet mom who was planning her son’s 1st birthday.  It was to be a huge event.  She is Korean and she told me in her culture, the 1st birthday is a big deal. Way back when, the mortality rates for infants in the first year was high, so for a baby to survive the first year was cause for big celebration.

I thought this was a very sweet and significant lesson and it got me to thinking about surviving this first year, not just baby, but mommy too!

So here are the lessons I have learned about surviving the 1st year of my second child’s life…

1. NOTHING was “easier” the second time around for me! I had heard, oh, you will be soooooo much more relaxed, you will enjoy it more, you know what you are doing…HA!!  To endure those hard newborn days with a bright-eyed bushy-tailed 3 year old was 100 times harder than I thought.  To have my attention, time and one pair of hands split between two little humans with different needs was also way harder than I thought.

2.  The sleep-deprived newborn days are torturous, but they go fast. I remember sitting up in the middle of the night thinking life will never be the same.  I will never sleep again and I will never feel normal ever again. I sometimes wanted to sob in the darkness because I was just SO DANG TIRED. When I got like this, I would sing the song in my head “It won’t be like this for long” by Darius Rucker and it would get me through.   I saw it on Oprah when I was pregnant and it made me cry. The song is SO TRUE. If you have 3 minutes today, listen to this song.  Beautiful message.

3. Babies are game changers and you have to be willing to adapt.  Just when you think you have something figured out and things are going somewhat smoothly, they will change the game.  Be it by teething, sleeping (or rather not sleeping), new developmental milestones, changes in mood or fussiness, eating.  You can’t get comfortable for too long.  If things are going well – ENJOY IT – for exactly what it is at that moment!

4. Just when you think you can’t take something for one more day, it will change for the better. Thanks to my cousin Angie for this quote. She has two older kids.  She knows.

5. Control.  Say good-bye. The more I fought to keep control over something, the more frustrated I became.  Learning to let go of things and realize I don’t have total control is an ever-challenging goal for me.

6. Nursing problems – get help if you need it! I had no nursing issues whatsoever with baby # 1.  Nursing was the last on my list of things to worry about because I had already nursed one baby.  With Morgan, I had several problems that persisted through her first 4 months.  I got a lot of help.  In fact, I wouldn’t have gotten through it without the support and expertise of the people at Milkalicious.

7. Reflux & colic can almost send you over the edge. My baby had severe reflux and colic for her first 4 months and it was 4 of the most challenging of my life.  If you are facing this, just know it WILL get better.  I promise.  The early days can feel like hell on earth. But she outgrew it, and we SURVIVED!

8. Seeing my oldest become a sibling has brought me more joy than I ever thought possible. I had no idea how much it would mean to me to see my daughter as a sister.   The unprompted sweetness and kindness she shows her little sister make my heart soar.  No one told me about this.  I love it.  It has made me feel really proud.

9. I have no idea what she “should be doing” as far as anything milestone-wise! I am not reading any books this time (because I have NO time) so when she does something new, it’s like “hey!  look what baby did!  wow!”   The 2nd learns in such a different way – mostly by watching her big sister – and that has been so cool to witness.

10. I realized that for the better part of most days, I’m outnumbered and I need help. I used to think it was a sign of weakness to need help, like I couldn’t handle it all myself, but this time around I smartened up and have gotten more help.  Being a mommy is hard, so get help if you need it!  Find a college babysitter here and there for a few hours, ask family to help, share babysitting with friends.  You got the idea – we were not meant to do this alone!!!  And leave the guilt at the door!

11.  I have realized this year just how crucial it is to have something just for me… time to take care of myself. I made my health a priority and have made regular exercise (running for me) something that is not-negotiable.  No excuses.  I always was filled with excuses before.  No time, no energy, blah blah blah.  My advice, if you are feeling run-down, spent, exhausted, unhappy, start to take 1 hour 3 – 4 times a week to exercise and you will not believe how much better you will feel all around.

12. Anything is possible if you believe you can do it.

13. The love I feel for my children is so equally overwhelming it can almost take my breath away. I never thought it was possible to love another child like my first, as I had never known love like that before. Then Morgan arrived and it was astounding to me how much the human heart has the capacity for such overwhelming love.

14.  Close mommy friends, my “mommy peeps” are more important than ever. And by mommy peeps, I mean the mommy friends you can be REAL with.  The people that you can call when you need to cry, or laugh, the people you can complain to or share joys with and you know you will never be judged. The sort of friends you don’t have to start the sentence with, “I really love my kids, but…”  Or the ones that you can have a play date and if your kid is a nightmare or does something embarrassing, you don’t have to worry that they think you are a bad mom, because they KNOW you.

15. Fifteen is a favorite number so I think this is a good place to stop.  The biggest lesson I have learned this year, is that the most challenging years/times can also lead to the most positive change. These are the situations that force you to learn more about yourself and who you are as a person.  This year almost kicked my butt but I feel so empowered that I SURVIVED,  and we survived as a family. I am coming out of it feeling stronger overall.   Our family feels stronger.  And complete.  It’s a peaceful feeling.  We made it through together and we are happy.  I really believe our kids are here to teach us about life, love, and ourselves.  And what a GIFT that is.  This baby, my one-year-old baby, has been one of the greatest gifts I could ever imagine.

So a very happy happy happy birthday to my Sweet girl!

Have a great weekend everyone, and have a VERY HAPPY and SAFE 4th of JULY!!!!!!



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  1. 1
    AnnieB says:


  2. 2
    tara says:

    congrats Jen! you ARE a wonderful mommy and friend! xoxo

  3. 3
    Jackie says:

    This is very well sai, beautiful! Happy Birthday Morgan!!

  4. 4
    Dara says:

    Happy Birthday to your little one! Whenever I’m invited to a friend’s house to celebrate her child’s first Birthday I bring a present for the Mommy too. It’s kind of a “hooray for surviving the 1st year!” celebration gift. Hugs to you!!

    • 5
      Jen says:

      I seriously LOVE this idea! It really is a milestone for mom too!!! That is so thoughtful.

  5. 6
    Holly says:

    Happy first birthday, Morgan!! What a beautifully written post- and I couldn’t agree more with all of it. Have a wonderful weekend!

  6. 7
    N says:

    thank you for this… it’s so nice to read this and know I’m not alone. as far as the second child goes and what i know or thought i knew…. i may as well as never been pregnant, never given birth, never raised a baby to toddler-hood… it is all sooo different and is really throwing me for a loop! But the positives you mentioned are also true, and thank God for recognizing those too!!!

    • 8
      Jen says:

      N – you are soooo not alone!!!! It is really different – and that is what threw me for a loop most of all!

  7. 9
    Jen says:

    Thanks to EACH of you for commenting & for your sweet comments. Love you guys!

  8. 10
    Summar Breeze says:

    Happy Birthday Baby & congrats Mommy on the big milestone! Thanks for sharing such an amazing post. Honestly, I can relate to EVERY item! As I mentioned before, in a message, my babe is only a couple days younger, her birthday in next Wednesday, the 7th. How is it, that my 1st child is 3 as well. My 2nd had colic and refulx the first several months. AND I spent almost every M-W-F at MILKALICIOUS. We MUST have chatted before during one of those support groups 😉 Anyhow, again congrats, and I wish you a wonderful holiday weekend with your beautiful family.

    • 11
      Jen says:

      What is your baby’s name?? I am sure we must have crossed paths. In fact, I remember meeting two moms at the Milkalicious workshops both with babies born on July 7th. Was that you?!? Happy bday to YOUR little one!

  9. 12
    suzanne says:

    Happy birthday to my Sweet niece! OK…now I’m in tears relating to this post and how amazing it’s been to watch these cousins grow together in their first year. I love you more than words can say and I’m so happy we could go through all this together! Remember calling each other and complaining about how TIRED we were?! We made it 🙂 love you!!!

    • 13
      Jen says:

      I know, what a gift to experience this crazy year together! Love YOU! XOXO

  10. 14
    JennyH says:

    Well said! Happy Birthday Morgan and congrats for making it through the first year!

  11. 15
    Melanie W says:

    Happy Birthday, Morgan!! What a beautifully written piece. It feels like just yesterday we were all at Hoag together. Thinking of you with love and toasting to you and all our other friends who made it through this year!! xoxo

  12. 16
    Macaulay says:

    Happy Birthday to Morgan! What a great post, I loved all of it and could totally relate. Especially #9 ~ I laughed out loud bc that’s exactly how it’s been this time… So different than the first time when I was obsessed with #1 researching and meeting the milestones. 🙂

  13. 17
    Cheryl says:

    I love the term “Mommy Peeps”!!! I’m sooo using this. Happy 1st year to you little girl.

  14. 18
    Megan Overman says:

    I am sitting here reading this Jen and crying and laughing all at the same time. I am on kid #2 and can so relate to all the things you mentioned above! We made it and each day for me is now getting better and easier. Watching my 2 boys play together and get along, is an unbelievable! Never thought the day would come…… You are so amazing for the things you write and for sharing your experiences!

  15. 19
    Heather T. says:

    This was so what I needed to hear right now, thank you! With a new 3 week old daughter and her 4 1/2 year old big sister I can relate to every item. It truly does not “stay like this for long”. Thanks for the reminder…love your posts!

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